Today is March 8. One of those days that we invent for everything that is endangered, threatened, fragile. Today, they say, is Woman’s Day, Women’s day, women’s rights’ Day. Well, today, as a woman, I feel like writing for men. Because I’m afraid that men are in danger. And therefore that we are too.
I’m a woman. I know the predators, the manipulators, the scornful, the oaf, the criminals. I’ve known them in my flesh. The ones who harm women because they’re women. Who have made them the objects of their impulses, the carpets where they wipe their frustrations, the territories where they exercise their power. But I don’t want to give these men the monopoly to represent all men. I don’t want them to take away from men what it means to be a man. And I won’t let certain women, as much ideologues as those they claim to fight, make men an entity associated with the rot that would be our absolute enemy. What is to be fought is a patriarchal system of which we are all heirs and reproducers, by adherence, submission or indifference. It is a long fight, but it is not a fight against men, nor against white men more than others, nor against rich men more than others. Contempt and violence against women exist among non-white and poor men too. Women who are obsessed with their appearance, with their extra pounds, with their hair to eradicate, are just as much reproducing the system that enslaves them.
As much as I will fight with all my strength to be respected, not only as a woman, but as an individual with black or dark skin, with a body that does not correspond to the canons of beauty or to the shelves of the shops, as a personality that is too full, too intense, too demanding, too present, as a person with multiple belongings that does not fit into the boxes prepared by society, as an artist too, and not a “woman-artist”. As much as I will fight with all my being so that we don’t crush all these men. Lovers or seducers, encounters of an evening or a lifetime. Those who know how to embody their feelings and those who don’t, those who think they are doing right and who do wrong, those who don’t know how to do it, those who are afraid and who run away, and those who, perhaps, no longer know where to stand, if they still have the right to tell a woman she is beautiful, if they have to verbalize every gesture to ask permission, if they have to feminize every word. I want these men with me, even clumsy, even awkwardmen. I need these men to love me. To welcome my power as I will welcome their fragility.
I don’t want anyone, man or woman, to approach me pretending to know what I am because I am a woman. Because I’m not just a woman. I am a woman and something else. So I won’t approach them either, saying to myself, “Men are” this or that, or “We are women, so we understand each other better”. My affinities go far beyond my gender. I want to be able to be friends with men, to approach them as a good companion, without slowing down under the pretext that I am a woman. To be able to say to myself: “He looks like my brother. The one I never had”.
I will not be in solidarity with all women because they are women. I will stand in solidarity with all the victims of the injustice of violence and lies, but their suffering will never justify in my eyes the shortcuts, the contempt and returning violence. Today’s struggles take place in the binary and comfortable oppositions of the powerful against the weak, the rich against the poor, the good against the bad, minorities against the “white”, women against men. This fight will be held without me. I have known enough about the complexity of reality, situations and humans to know that these binary patterns are only postures that relieve us, that make a lot of noise, but do not solve anything. I’ve known wonderful rich people and poor schmocks, open whites and racist non-whites, respectful men and contemptuous women.
Yes and a thousand times yes, victims of rape and sexual assault need to be heard. The strength of their cry echoes the violence they have suffered. But this need to speak will only be a new act of violence, if it is vomited on an entity that is manufactured to be trampled on, instead of being put down, to be said and repaired. I will fight with these men and women who welcome this complexity and fight to serve the same ideal of justice and truth.
Being a woman won’t be my banner. It will simply be one of my truths. No more and no less than the others. I will not wield it against men, but with them. For by saying this is the woman I am, I will allow them to become the men we hope for.